Monday, January 03, 2011

Random Early 2011 Thoughts (and collards)

I had a pretty unusual New Year weekend. I ended up spending around 98% of New Year's eve in the kitchen. In the past I always did a big finger food spread of the usual suspects: cheeses, crackers, meats, fruits, veggies, dips. But because we didn't have the shrimp boil on Christmas day, I decided to do that. And added crab legs just for funsies. Actually you are supposed to add crab legs but I never had a tall enough pot. Then I discovered a nice tall pot in my garage that I had brought from Mom's house back in the summer of clearing out Mom's house.
And it wasn't the shrimp (and crab legs!) boil that kept me in the kitchen all day. What happened was, I had decided to attempt to make collards (or collard greens for those not from North Carolina) for New Year's Day to go with the black-eyed peas, boiled potatoes and ham steaks. And collards are always better the next day. Besides they are a lot of work and "a lot of work" doesn't mix well with a day after champagne drinking.
I had attempted to make collards before. Just twice. Both failures. I spent a lot of time online looking at recipes and tips. And a facebook friend had a gorgeous picture of his big bowl of collards and I asked him for advice. He pretty much said you need to get North Carolina collards just after the first freeze.

Well. I'm in Texas. I have no idea where the collards I had bought had come from and if they had been frostbitten or not. They didn't look frostbitten. But because I had bought two big bunches and didn't have space inside, I had stored them in the garage fridge. That's the beer fridge, which is VERY cold. Many things have frozen out there. When I brought them in on Friday, they didn't look as pert and perky as they had been, so I guess that was as close to frostbite as they were going to get.
Because I don't actually follow recipes, I did my usual thing of looking at lots and lots of recipes looking for common threads. Everyone used red pepper flakes. Many people used apple cider vinegar. Many people suggested sugar to counter the bitterness. One guy made a big deal about collards only being as good as the stock they were cooked in and used smoked turkey necks for his stock. Smoked turkey necks? I'm a ham hocks girl. One lady said she put a little baking soda in the water to wash her collards. Here's what I did:
I put a little apple cider vinegar in the big pot of water to clean the collards. I stripped the stems very well. The ham hocks were cooking away making my stock. I was doing all sorts of rolling of leaves and and slicing when my brain said, "Hey! Apple cider vinegar? Sugar? That's a fermented fruit acid and a sweetener, right? Why don't you pour red wine in the ham hock stock?" And so I did. And the collards were delicious. It was hard to put them away for the next day. But I did. And then I decorated for New Year, took a shower, and it was already time to get back in the kitchen to start the shrimp boil.
On New Year's Day, I made a nice breakfast and the rest of the afternoon cleaning the kitchen from the breakfast and pots from the day before. Finally at 5:30 I said, "Let's watch our Netflix movie and then I will start dinner." It was In Bruges, which is a great film. Then I was back in the kitchen. But I really enjoyed sitting down for those two hours.

We saw True Grit today (Sunday) at the movie tavern and it was another great Coen brothers film. We stopped in at the Chili's before we went and a lady came to sit by me and her voice sounded familiar. Then she said something about her foot to the people next to her and I realized she was one of my MOW people. Oddly, just the day before, My Sweetie and I had a conversation about not recognizing people out of context. And there it was, happening. It was nice to talk to her because she stopped the program about a month ago, but I was sad to hear that her foot has still not healed.
I started looking ahead and found out that the north side of the beach cottage duplex is already booked, so I guess we will be back on the south side this year. And speaking of trips, I found out something crazy. Crazy! It will be cheaper for me to fly to Raleigh/Durham and then fly from there to New York than to go to New York from here. I don't have a problem with that. I'll stay with Lo and then we will fly together from there. I am so looking forward to that. Don't forget to look for me on the Today show on April 20th. I'll be the crazy lady in the crowd with the sign saying: I'M 50 TODAY!

Later today, I'll be de-holidaying the house. It's going to be a lot of work. I decorated for New Year's on top of the Christmas decorations. And I went full throttle this year. But I won't be in the kitchen at all. We're going to order pizza.


cabcree said...

we enjoyed True Grit ourselves although at times it was hard to follow the dialog

geewits said...

~~That's funny, because that's what we said about In Bruges. I guess living in Texas made it easy to understand True Grit.

haphazardlife said...

True Grit is on my must see list - as is any Coen brothers movie.

- jazz

Carole said...

After reading your post, I went to bed thinking about those collards, and woke up this morning thinking about them too. Talk about the power of suggestion! Your description made my mouth water...yum!

Lo said...

I'm so happy your collards came out so great! If I ever make them agian I'll use wine too!
I so look forward to our NY trip too! I'm so glad we'll be arriving together. 50 in NYC! Woo-Hoo!

geewits said...


~~Do it!

~~Gonna book it in the next hour or so. NYC here we come!

Jocelyn said...

Your effort with the collard greens was admirable! I'm also jealous of that beer fridge...

Happy New Year. Have great travels in 2011!